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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Health Medicine >> Acupressure


Acupressure is a traditional Chinese technique based on the same principles as acupuncture. Unlike Acupuncture, that uses needles to achieve response, acupressure uses gentle but firm physical pressure exerted by hand, elbow, and foot or with the aid of different devices. Pressure is applied to different acupuncture points found on the human body surface to achieve the desired remedial effect.

Many East Asian martial arts extensively use this technique to incapacitate their opponents. As per the historians acupressure is older than acupuncture, but acupressure lost popularity with the advent of acupuncture. Still it continues to be most effective method for the treatment of tension related ailments and pain. While we talk of acupressure and acupuncture we continuously refer to the traditional Chinese principles of acupressure or acupuncture points.

The traditional Chinese principles treat the human body as a whole; it represents various jiaos or levels of the ventral body cavity. Any disease is taken as a loss of balance between the yin and yang energies and treatment of disease is attempted by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function. Chinese principle holds that acupuncture or acupressure works by normalizing the free flow of qi (vital energy), blood and body fluids (jin ye) throughout the body.

Pain is treated by correcting the local or systemic upsurge or insufficiency. Pain is considered to indicate blockage or stagnation of the flow of qi, blood and/or fluids, the delicate balance between qi and blood is of primary concern in Chinese principle, hence the saying blood is the mother of qi, and qi is the controller of blood. Both qi and blood work together to move and to nourish the body fluids. Acupressure or acupuncture points are located along several layers of pathways, most commonly the twelve primary pathways or meridians, located throughout the body.

Beside that other pathways are the eight unusual Pathways Qi Jing Ba Mai, Luo Vessels, the Divergent and the Sinew Channels. Ten of the primary pathways are named after organs of the body, eleventh pathway is named for the membrane that wraps the heart, the last pathway is the 'three spaces' (San Jiao). The twelve primary pathways run vertically, bilaterally, and symmetrically and every channel corresponds to and connects internally with one of the twelve organs. There are six yin and six yang channels in all. Out of these, three yin and three yang channels are present on each arm, and three yin and three yang on each leg. All the acupuncture points of a channel lie on its external pathway.

The internal pathways are the deep path of the channel where it enters the body cavities and related organs. The external pathways of the twelve channels depict three complete circuits of the body, chest to hands, hands to head, head to feet, feet to chest, etc. There are some electronic devices now available which will make a noise when the correct acupressure/acupuncture point is pressed.

As soon as a point is pressed, the muscle tension give way to the pressure, enabling the muscle fibers to stretch and relax, blood to flow freely, and toxins to be released and eliminated. Increased circulation also brings in more oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area.

This increases the body's resistance to illness and promotes a longer, healthier, more vital life. When the blood and bioelectrical energy circulate properly, we have a greater sense of harmony, health, and well-being. The acupressure expert decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient in order to make a diagnosis according to the tradition. There are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation. The whole process I relatively pain free. After prolonged finger pressure is applied directly on the pressure point; gradual, steady, penetrating pressure for approximately three minutes on the affected point is ideal.

A general guideline is that the pressure should be firm enough so that it hurts between pleasant, firm pressure and outright pain. The middle finger is the longest and strongest of the fingers and is best suited for applying acupressure. The thumb is strong, too, but often lacks sensitivity. The knuckles or fist or other tools can be used according to specific requirements. The rule of thumb is to apply slow, firm pressure on the point at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the skin. It's important to apply and release finger pressure gradually because this allows the tissues time to respond, promoting healing. After repeated acupressure sessions using different degrees of pressure, the patient will begin to feel a pulse at the point. This pulsation is a good sign, it means that circulation has increased in the affected area. Each body and each area of the body requires a different amount of pressure.

At present different kinds of acupressure are being practiced. The same age-old pressure points are used in all of them to date. Varying rhythms, pressures and techniques create different styles of acupressure. Shiatsu, for instance, the most well-known style of acupressure, can be quite vigorous, with firm pressure applied to each point for only three to five seconds. Another kind of acupressure gently holds each point for a minute or more. Pressing with an intermittent, fast beat is stimulating; a slower pressure creates a deeply relaxing effect on the body.

Slow motion kneading uses the thumbs and fingers along with the heels of the hands to squeeze large muscle groups firmly. This motion is similar to that of kneading a large mass of dough. This relieves general stiffness, shoulder and neck tension, constipation, and spasms in the calf muscles. Brisk rubbing uses friction to stimulate the blood and lymph. The skin is rubbed lightly to relieve chilling, swelling, and numbness by increasing circulation, as well as to benefit the nerves and tone of the skin.

Quick tapping with fingertips stimulates muscles on unprotected, tender areas of the body such as the face. For larger areas of the body, such as the back or buttocks, loose fist is used. This can improve the functioning of nerves and sluggish muscles in the area. Acupressure can be very effective in helping relieve headaches, eyestrain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, and tension due to stress. It also relieves ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower back aches, constipation, indigestion, anxiety and helps you get to sleep at night. The best part of acupressure is - there is no side effect as no drugs or medications are being used.

About the Author:

Leanne Kemp is the Managing Director for Wotaboutme. Look online to find a day spa, haircut, aromatherapy massage anywhere in Australia. Perfect for gifts for him or gifts for her. For updates, check out the Wotaboutme Blog